One thing that helped turn me around before I totally burned out was to look prayerfully at the life of Jesus. I studied the Gospels carefully and learned some surprising things that I hadn’t been taught in church. I saw Jesus setting boundaries repeatedly.
I share the full results of this study into the confident and peace-filled life of Jesus that he offers to us in my book Your Best Life In Jesus’ Easy Yoke. Here are a few thoughts…
I discovered that in his humanity Jesus had limitations that he accepted in a relaxed way. Like being in a human body that needed nourishment and rest and could only be in one place at a time. Like there only being 24-hours in a day. (Unlike the ambitious, overworking leaders I’ve talked with, Jesus didn’t try to accomplish 26 hours of activity in a 24 hour day.)
Jesus had personal needs that he prioritized — sometimes even over the needs of other people — and he did so without feeling guilty. Primarily, his personal soul care involved separating himself from people to be alone with God, who he called “Abba” (Papa). Jesus lived in a rhythm of life that not only kept him free from burn out, but kept him full of God, full of grace and truth, and therefore ready and able to be compassionate and generous in his response to people, their needs, interruptions, and crisis situations.
Unlike many other servants of the Lord, Jesus did not live on the defensive, overextending himself, getting more and more tired, and then finally taking a break. Instead, Jesus lived on the offensive in dealing with temptation and Satan. He was proactive, in that he consistently invested in his intimacy with Abba, which gave him energy and focus. Because he lived this way, he was never in danger of burnout.
I saw in the gospels that Jesus wasn’t always nice to people. Often he didn’t do what people wanted him to do. There were many people he didn’t help. And whenever he did help other people, he expected them to do their part. For instance, even in Jesus’ miracles, he asked people to do something, which was usually something they felt they couldn’t do. (The blind man had to walk a long way to get to the pool of Siloam to wash the mud out of his eyes.)
These understandings about Jesus’ way of life helped me to trust that it was right (not only healthy, but also holy) for me to learn how to say no to people, speak the truth in love, and live within my personal limitations.
Join Bill & Kristi in a honest, grace-filled conversation about healthy boundaries in life and ministry in the companion podcast episode Family: Healthy Boundaries.